‘Am I crossing picket lines if I see a movie?’ and other Hollywood strike fan questions answered

19 July 2023

You watch movies. You watch TV. And now you’re wondering how the dual Hollywood strikes — a pitched battle with actors and writers on one side, and studios and streaming services on the other — will affect you. We have answers.

Do the strikes mean “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” aren’t coming out?

They — and all other summer releases — are still on track! Many flashy premieres have been canceled, however, or dramatically scaled down.

Am I crossing the picket line by seeing one of those movies?

No, the unions have not asked fans to boycott productions, and are quick to make that explicit. Instead, the guilds have asked supporters who aren’t members to post on social media and donate to community funds.

Should I cancel Netflix, MAX or the 16 other streaming services I subscribe to if I want to show support?
Nope, there’s been no consumer boycott of any kind called yet. Some guild members have said watching their programs on streaming services — if they’re still on there — actually helps make their cases to the the studios’ bargaining arm, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

When will I stop being able to watch new movies and shows?

That’s the big question: When will the pipeline dry up? There aren’t clear answers. The impact of the writers strike has so far been felt most acutely in the world of television; now, the actors strike has halted the bulk of film production. Your favorite broadcast shows like “Abbott Elementary” definitely aren’t coming back by early fall, regardless of whether the strikes are settled by then. Ditto for streaming favorites like “Stranger Things.” International productions may be able to fill the gap. As for movies, there’s still a steady stream on the horizon.

I have a ticket to a play starring my favorite actor. Do the strikes mean the show is going to be canceled?
No, stage actors in plays and musicals are governed by the Actors’ Equity Association. A different union altogether, Equity has expressed solidarity with SAG-AFTRA and many actors are members of both unions. But Broadway dances on.

I love the Emmys — will they still air in September?

The Emmys are still set for Monday, Sept. 18. But history shows that awards shows that proceed during strikes turn out to be bleak affairs. And Emmy campaigning will certainly be affected — SAG-AFTRA and WGA members aren’t allowed to take part in “for your consideration” events under their strike notices and they wouldn’t be able to accept awards for projects produced by struck companies.

Can actors still post to social media?

Yes! Actors (and writers) do not have to fade gently into that good night while they’re on strike. Social media actually helps boost the visibility of their cause, and you’ll see many guild members posting content with bespoke strike-related hashtags. But actors aren’t supposed to promote any of their projects in the pipeline while on strike, so it’s unlikely that you’ll see a sea of #barbie and #oppenheimer hashtags from their star-studded casts.

The SAG-AFTRA strike website had this advice for members wondering if they were allowed to promote themselves (or post #spon): “Yes! Promote yourself as an artist, a fashion icon, a union activist, a commercial actor, and a proud SAG-AFTRA member. You can also promote brands using our groundbreaking Influencer Agreement or start a podcast.”

It’s my dream to go to Comic-Con — will that be affected this year?

Honestly, yes. Several show and movie panels have already been canceled and the strike notice forbids SAG-AFTRA members from promoting any work made by struck companies — even if those projects were long in the past. There are certain exceptions that would allow members to attend some conventions, but the bottom line is that major events like San Diego’s Comic-Con will indeed be diminished during the strikes.

Look, the only thing that helps me unwind is watching celebrity interviews on YouTube. What am I going to do when that well dries up?
It won’t — the nature of that content will just be different. Ryan Gosling might not explicitly exude “Kenergy” in his interviews, but he’s still allowed to make media appearances (where the “Kenergy” might just be innate). Scores of actors and writers alike have been talking to media — including The Associated Press — on the picket lines for weeks.

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